Friday, August 13, 2010

The awful truth about baby carrots.

Okay, it's not awful, but that seemed like a catchy title. Some others might be "Baby carrots, not Babies at all." and "Baby carrots, used to be cattle feed."

Have you ever grown a carrot? If so you've probably noticed that the single, long tapering root is not the only, or even the primary form that carrots favor. At least as likely, sometimes more depending on the density of your soil, is the "octopus" carrot as Ragnarson calls them. And yet, when purchasing carrots in the store the octopus carrots are nowhere to be seen.

Except that they are: whittled down into little baby carrots. I imagine some sort of carrot whittling machine in the carrot bagging factory somewhere, where the monster carrots, the misshapen mutant carrots are dumped into a big hopper and then (grind, clang, clash) out the other end come scrubbed, peeled an appropriately whittled down baby carrots. And over all I think this is probably a good thing. I think that carrot consumption has risen considerably since the advent of the baby carrot. They're so CUTE after all, those little rounded nubby things, and so convenient for snacking and (I suppose) cooking (although the taste degrades significantly in the whittling process, I think). No washing, no peeling. And before there was a baby carrot whittling machine, those mutant carrots were bound for the carrot scrap heaped to be juiced, or mixed in with animal feed, or (gasp) trashed. So hurray for baby carrots.

But can I just say, that as a mother who struggles to get her son to eat anything remotely vegetative, that I can definitely see a market for "monster" carrots. My truck crashing, gun-out-of-toast-making, little-brother-walloping manchild is much more excited about eating something that looks like it might be related to the creature from the black lagoon than he is about eating a neatly whittled, domesticated "Baby."

So lucky for him there's a lot of clay in our garden soil, and mutant carrots abound.

Ragnar...mother of monsters.


Obsidian Kitten said...

I have indeed grown carrots, and the octopus-monster ones are the best. I have indeed purchased "baby" carrots, without once giving a thought to their lack of resemblance to anything grown in nature.

Wow. I feel enlightened.

RH said...

I like baby carrots for snacking on, but I hate chopping them for cooking purposes. They are too small and too round. I also prefer my food not to have been thru a mysterious factory process before it got to me - they do taste different. But, having a bunch of them floating around in the fridge provides my favorite thing - something i can open the fridge, grab, and eat.

ps i need some interesting varieties for next year's garden. Any suggestions? my principal interest is taste, followed by exotic colors.

Ragnar said...

My favorite place to get seeds is Seed Savers:

I love a seed company that encourages you to save seeds. I love the "german pink" tomato, and any sort of funny colored carrot. The latest issue of Mother Earth News has a taste comparison of about a dozen different carrots.

TracyKM said...

The baby carrots we get do have green spots at one end as if the leaves were totally rubbed off. But there are many that don't too...